USA Deaf Sports Federation is pleased to announce that Ralph Fernandez has joined the Board of Directors. Ralph Fernandez brings a wealth of professional experience through his current roles as Database Administrator of VL2 at Gallaudet University and Information Technology Officer at ICSD. Ralph hails from southern California, and currently resides in Washington D.C. He earned his undergraduate degree from Gallaudet University in business management. A first-generation Cuban-American, Fernandez is also fluent in international sign.
As a cyclist at his first World Games for the Deaf in Los Angeles in 1985, Ralph competed in the 1,000m sprint event and earned the silver medal. At the 1987 World Championships in Belgium, Ralph won gold in the same event. Fernandez also competed at the 1989 World Games for the Deaf in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Fernandez’s experience as a competitive rider led him to serve various roles in international cycling. He got his first international coaching experience at the 2006 World Deaf Cycling Championships in San Francisco with the U.S. Deaf Cycling's mountain bike team, and at the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei. He later served as Technical Director for international cycling competitions from 2010 to 2017.
As a Title IX advocate, Fernandez worked with cycling leaders to increase exposure of women's cycling and incorporate it into international competitions including World Deaf Cycling Championships and Deaflympics. Thanks to the persistence of these combined efforts, women's cycling grew from two events in Mont Tremblant, Canada in 2011 to a full field of five events in Samsun, Turkey in 2017.
With his involvement with International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD) since 2004, Fernandez is very familiar with the structures of international sports organizations. He was a member of the Games Organizing Committee for the 2007 Salt Lake Winter Deaflympics. His tireless work for ICSD earned him the highest honor bestowed by the organization, the ICSD Medal of Honor, at the 2017 Summer Deaflympics in Samsun.
In addition to his cycling expertise, Fernandez’s skills as an artist also led to his creation of the former USADSF and the current Deaflympic logos.
He has two children, Ryland 16, and Sophia, 13. He counts biking, hiking, traveling and scuba diving among his myriad interests.
USADSF’s Board of Directors currently comprise of Danny Lacey (President), Paige Thompson (Vice President), Mark Apodaca (Treasurer), Ralph Fernandez (Member at Large), Jeffrey Mansfield (Member at Large), Tiffany Williams (Member at Large), Liza Offreda (NSO Representative) and Stacy Nowak (NSO Representative).
Corrections: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the year of the 2006 World Deaf Cycling Championships. The prior version stated it as the 2007 World Championships. In addition, a clarification has been added to Fernandez's role in increasing exposure and participation of women's cycling at the international levels.